What is Service Learning?
Introduction to Service Learning/Community Based Learning
Through Service Learning/community based learning NUI Galway seeks to reinvigorate the civic mission of higher education and instil in students a sense of social responsibility and civic awareness through the development of teaching and learning opportunities. An Academic Staff Developer works directly with academic staff to enable and support the development of modules that underpin service learning.
Defining Service Learning
Service Learning is a pedagogical tool which encourages students to learn and explore issues vital to society, inside and outside the classroom. Students learn from engaging with communities by active participation. Academic staff guide students through this process through structured reflection and the integration of theory and practice. Communities involved in Service Learning can be charities, non-governmental organisations, statutory bodies, community associations or organisations with a focus on social responsibility.
To find out more about the theory surrounding service learning you can watch an interview with Professor Edward Zlotkowski, Bentley College, USA, and Senior Faculty Fellow at Campus Compact, here.
The key objectives of Service Learning at NUI Galway are to:
- Create opportunities to integrate & relate theory to practice;
- Enhance partnerships between the university and the wider community;
- Increase the civic, academic, personal & professional capacity of students through experiential learning.
Service Learning Characteristics
When developing service learning teaching and learning opportunities, academic staff should consider the following characteristics:
- Service should be linked to studentís academic discipline;
- Active participation in the community is promoted;
- Community becomes a teaching tool & partner;
- Academic theory is viewed in a real world context;
- Issues vital to social, civic and political society are explored;
- Experiential education techniques and opportunities are promoted.
Service Learning at NUI Galway